A true Apple fan from deep in the backwoods of County Meath – that’s Ireland – dropped two nuggets of info on Murphy today: Two ways to remote control a computer from your iPhone or iPod touch.
First, there’s logmein.com, which has become a favorite remote control option for Murphy. It’s secure, it’s free, and it makes maintaining a list of the computers you connect to simple. When Murphy signs into logmein.com he sees which computers are online – and can connect with a click from a web browser. From anywhere.
This post by the Technology Evengelist shows how you can make a simple change to your logmein.com preferences so your iPhone or iPod touch can be used as the client. First you select the computer you want to make the change for, then update the preferences to use an html client when connecting. Details in the post.
If you prefer VNC there’s a client in the App Store called Mocha VNC Lite, as reported by Just Another Iphone Blog. I was connected to my Mac in about 45 seconds including the install. VNC on a tiny screen requires a little patience, but it’s great to have the access when you don’t have a computer.
More Remote Tips
Murphy has tons of posts – tons – to help you with gaining access to a remote Mac. We’ve got you covered from getting started with SSH and SCP to emailing yourself a filename – and automatically having the file sent to you in a reply. Murphy also has posts on auto-emailing a file that’s dropped in a Finder folder. So you can ssh in, copy a file to a folder, and it’s on its way.
More on VNC
A program like SuperDuper is a rare find. It covers your backup needs with a simple interface. It’s got a fair price. And it’s meticulously documented. Next week we’ll look at some of the more advanced features – today we’ll hit the basics.
Your Mac doesn’t come with a backup program. You need to subscribe to Apple’s .Mac to access their backup tool. On the other hand, SuperDuper provides a free version that can create a full, bootable backup. After seeing how easy SuperDuper is to use you’ll want the full version which can update your backups in a fraction of the time.
Backup can be a complicated science. SuperDuper’s interface confirms your settings with clearly-worded summaries. The extensive documentation provides further guidance.
Depending on how you use your Mac you might want to maintain multiple backup versions. You could run a full backup once a week. You could run a changes-only backup every day that runs quickly and backs up the day’s work. SuperDuper can also create a mirror-type backup that deletes files in the backup that you’ve deleted on your working disk.
How you use your Mac drives your strategy. You have to ask yourself how far back you might need to go. Do you need to recover important files you’ve deleted? Or go back to a previous day’s version? Consider those kinds of questions as you develop your strategy. Disk space is less expensive all the time. A 500GB drive can hold multiple backup versions of your Macbook’s drive.
SuperDuper suggests using a dedicated disk to store your backup. But you can also store your backup in an image file that can be restored to a disk and booted from. If you plan on using an external disk consider Firewire for its flexibility and speed.
Your disk could fail any day. Murphy’s Macbook Pro died without warning. A few weeks later the G5 wouldn’t boot. If you haven’t been backing up you should at least download the free version of SuperDuper today and make yourself a full backup.
The key to waking up invisible is always going to sleep invisible. Watch the screencast to see how. Using the SleepWatcher utility we can run a simple Applescript to change our Skype user status to invisible, or whatever status you prefer, before dozing off. When your Mac wakes up Skype will remember the status and resume in that state. SleepWatcher has been covered in numerous tips on MacOSXHints.
Other services similar to Skype have options to set their initial user status in the preferences. Some would argue that if everyone goes around living the invisible life these services are less useful. Well, that’s probably true, but it’s a fact of life. Think of those times you logged in for a quick weather check and that guy who always pesters you is beeping in with a chat request. Grrr. Blocking and unblocking users is no fun either.
Most Mac users are probably sleeping their Macs these days, not shutting them down. So this invisible Skype solution should help most of the time. If you’re shutting down you can either remember to change your Skype status, use a script to shutdown, or just live with the risk of chat pests.
More on Shutting Down: You could use a script that changes the Skype status before initiating the shut down command. You’d have to use that script to shut down instead of the conventional methods. But you could have it do other things too, like empty the trash.
The scripts download has one script for sleeping like in the screencast. There’s also a script for shutting down. You could save that one as an application with Script Editor and even assign it a keyboard shortcut.
All this sounds really complicated, but it’s not. You install Sleepwatcher. You create one file in your home folder with one command and make it executable. You download the AppleScript. Done. And you can click below to watch a screencast which shows all the steps.
You can download SleepWatcher from the developer’s site. You can also use it to run commands on wakeup. Read more about the Skype API in the Skype developer’s forum.
Download the AppleScript Murphy uses in the screencast.
This post covers a few different things – the title doesn’t do it justice. We’ve got a network theme working this week and we’re going to keep it rolling with shares.
If you’re coming from Windows you’re probably a little surprised at how your Mac handles sharing compared to Windows. If you’re familiar with UNIX and Linux it probably all makes perfect sense.
Here’s what the screencast covers:
- Gain access to an external drive, that isn’t shared, connected to a different machine
- Share a USB drive on the local machine
- Copy contacts (.vcf) from a Windows machine directly to a Mac-formatted iPod.
Sounds like a lot, but we’ll use some simple tools to make it really easy.
In Windows you may have right-clicked folders and drives and found menu items for sharing the resources on the network. You don’t see those on the Mac, do you? Your Mac figures you keep everything in your home folder, which you can easily share in System Preferences. But when you add a second internal drive to your G5 or plug in a USB drive, you have no way to share them.
We have two techniques and a different tool for each. First, we’ll connect to a remote computer and create a symbolic link using the ln command (Terminal). The link will make an external drive, an iPod in the screencast, appear as a subfolder in the Public folder on the remote machine.
When we connect to the remote computer we can see the iPod contents via the Public folder.
Read more about ln and symbolic links here. In the Windows world you might have used Server Manager or the MMC to create a remote share. We’re not really creating a remote share, we’re linking additional resources into an existing share.
Next we’ll use Hornware’s SharePoints, a donation-ware tool that makes sharing folders and drives connected to your Mac a cakewalk.
Here’s the cool part: We’ll access the shared iPod from a Windows machine. If you keep all your contacts on a PC laptop this is a good way to copy them to your Mac-paired iPod.
The ln part of the screencast was inspired by this post on MacOSXHints.
Note: This screencast assumes some familiarity with Terminal. If you’re confused by the screencast, see Murphy Mac’s Terminal category in the Sidebar to the right. You might want to watch this first. Be careful with the Terminal! Its power can be dangerous!
With iWeb it’s easy to make fantastic looking content in a matter of minutes. To keep things simple, iWeb never shows you a single line of html. For some that’s good. For others it’s frustrating.
If you check around on the web you’ll find some workarounds. A common theme: Put a placeholder on your page – like a word that will stand out. After publishing you can scan your html for the standout word and replace it with whatever html code you want on your iWeb page.
Murphy’s going to make it even easier. He’s using a free tool called iWebMore. We’ll put a rounded-rectangle on the page as a placeholder. We’ll add the html inside the rectangle, then let iWebMore do the dirty work of updating our html after we publish.
You could use this method to add all kinds of code scraps. Digg buttons, videos, Adsense banners – all kinds of content. Even just a few simple lines of html that iWeb couldn’t do for you. Suddenly iWeb isn’t half as limited as you once thought.
Remember, you’re altering the pages after you publish. That means if you publish again you’ll have to process your pages again using iWebMore to update the html. iWeb doesn’t know you altered the html.
In the screencast we’ll add a small piece of Google script to our page that pulls our favorite stories from Google Reader. As we mark stories as favorites in Google Reader, our iWeb generated page will update with new links. This is a great way to keep your site fresh, and provide your readers with content that interests you.
Down the road we’ll take a look at making the changes manually. For now, iWebMore makes it really easy. Who knows, maybe the next version of iWeb will take care of this for us??
Related information: See the screencast for automating iWeb syncing with a third party host.